Archive for May, 2011

Today is the last day of the fifth month of my Happiness Project for 2011.

To recap, I chose to focus on Peace & Spirituality. My resolutions for the month were to: 

  • Sit in complete silence for 10 minutes each day
  • Attend a meditation class
  • Unplug after 6pm
  • Breathe
  • Create a gratitude journal and write in it each day
  • Explore the outdoors for 10 minute every day
  • Visit a Buddhist Temple
  • Visit the First Unitarian Congregation
  • Read the Bible 

I really feel like I slacked off a bit with this month. I did most of the things I had committed to but I didn’t do them with full enthusiasm or interest. The purpose of this month was to learn to bring peace into my life as well as find some sort of spiritual connection but I really feel like I was just going through the motions, checking off the next item on my to-do list. 

Sit in Complete Silence for 10 Minutes Each Day

In the beginning of the month, I did my best to make this a priority but as the month went on, and I didn’t really feel like I was getting any real benefits from this exercise, I considerably reduced the frequency of my solitude. Although most times I would feel much more relaxed after the ten minutes were complete, I didn’t feel like I was getting anything else from it. 

I’ve always heard that meditation has all these huge benefits; it reduces stress, releases anger and fear, and helps you to develop more kindness, compassion and gratitude. It is a remarkable tool for self-reflection. It enables you to look within and see more clearly, witness your deepest thoughts and reduce your self-involvement. All I received from my time alone was an increased relaxed feeling – from all the breathing, and a slight increase in my frustration levels from constantly (unsuccessfully) eliminating the distracting thoughts and attempting to ignore the surrounding noises. 

I think I may need to get some expert advice on this whole meditation thing. Perhaps I am simply putting too much pressure on myself. Maybe this particular way is not the right way for me. Maybe I just need to stick with it a bit longer until my mind becomes more trained. I believe I went into this with high expectations, assuming I’d come out of it with these huge insights. Perhaps there is no ulterior purpose to meditation. Maybe the only intention one should have is to just be there, in the moment, without trying to achieve anything in particular or get anywhere. Maybe there really is no right or wrong way, simply being present and being aware is the only objective. 

Attend a Meditation Class

I finally found a cool meditation class – one without all the weird chanting and flower child attire and acoustic guitars. I found a meditation class that is instructed by a very peaceful, serene Buddhist monk. The class was an hour and a half long and involved over 45 minutes of silent meditation (and I thought 10 minutes a day was tough!). The teacher guided us through a breathing meditation and then changed our focus to one of positive intention. Apparently, if you bestow a positive intention to each of your meditations it becomes much more powerful. The teacher then stopped the meditation to discuss some Buddhist values and teachings. She talked about Karma and then focused the talk around anger and how we can effectively deal with the anger in our lives (we certainly don’t want to have an outburst and create bad Karma for ourselves! 🙂 ) She ended the class with another silent meditation where we again concentrated on our breathing, created a positive intention and then spent a few more minutes focusing on anger and what we can do to deal with our anger and become a much more patient and peaceful person. 

I really enjoyed this class for three reasons. The first was because it forced me to sit there in silence for a really long time. The second was because the teacher was awesome and taught me a lot about Buddhist tradition and creating more patience and peace in my life. And the third was the fact that we were told to specifically think of a thought (how we can deal with our anger to become more patient). This was key for me. During all of my at home solitude sessions I would try my best to clear my mind from all thoughts but in this class we were actually encouraged to focus on those thoughts. That, I believe, is where the real self-reflection and insights will be found. 

Unplug After 6pm

For the most part, I found this goal pretty easy and quite calming. Other than the two nights when I had to go on after 6pm to upload my daily blog post, I have managed to stay away from the computer. It sounds weird but knowing that I could not go on it led to a very calming, peaceful feeling. I no longer have all these distracting thoughts of what I should go search for or check up on. I simply don’t care. 6pm is my time now to do what I want without having that nagging timewaster hanging over my head. 


I’ve done pretty well with this. I wouldn’t say it has made a big difference in my life but having it as one of my goals at least reminds me every once in awhile to just stop and take a few deep breaths. 

Create a Gratitude Journal and Write In It Each Day

My gratitude journal has been really good for me. It encourages me to live in the moment and to become more aware of all the things I have to be thankful for. I did noticed a lot of little things before I started the journal but I feel that I really fully observe and engage myself in the simple pleasures now.  I literally stop to smell the roses and pause a moment when I see a bird singing in the trees. I allow myself to completely delight in the silly things and fully appreciate all the beauty we have in this world. 

Explore the Outdoors for 10 Minute Every Day

Unfortunately I did not succeed in this department at all. I’m going to use the record amount of rainfall as my excuse. When it was nice out, I did make sure to get outside, usually for at least half an hour to a full 2-3 hours. However, on those frequent miserable dreary days, I tended to shy away from the outside world and submersed myself deeper into my comfy, dry house.

Visit a Buddhist Temple

Last Sunday I attended a Buddhist Center. I wanted to go to one of the big temples in my city but I couldn’t find any info on them, all I could find was the addresses and the emails I sent out requesting info were ignored. This particular Buddhist Center had a fabulous website though, with lots of info, so I gave it a shot. The Sunday “class” was very small, with just three other people in it. It was held in the upstairs of a building, above a store, and was certainly nothing like the big old church I was expecting. We started with a prayer (played to music), did a 20 minute silent meditation, the monk talked for a few minutes then proceeded to play another musical chant-like prayer for world peace. We had another short 5 min meditation, played another musical prayer then had tea with the monk. It certainly wasn’t what I expected. It wasn’t a bad experience by any means but I don’t think I will be going back. I have my Buddhist meditation class now that is similar in the teachings and meditation but lacks the (slightly annoying) musical prayers. 

Visit the First Unitarian Congregation

I attended the First Unitarian Congregation a few weeks ago and had a really great time. I was quite nervous as I had never been to a real church before but this place put me completely at ease. The people were all really nice, the place was very casual (jeans & t-shirt kind of apparel) and it wasn’t at all preachy and religious. I started by belting my heart out to “Lean on Me”, listened to a story about Winnie the Pooh, participated in a few minutes of silent meditation as well as music meditation to a live band and got to hear a really awesome sermon about making decisions. The overall impression I got from this congregation was not one of God, religion, sacrifice and commandments but one of community and non-judgmental togetherness. It was a lot of fun and I will definitely go back again in the future. 

Read the Bible 

I must admit, I’ve pretty much let this goal fall right off my priority list. To be fair, I have refused to pick up any other books in the meantime, in hopes of inspiring myself to pick up the Bible but I just couldn’t spend my free time reading it. It is just so very long and boring (well, compared to my exciting murder mystery novels I like to read anyways). I have read some of it (the book of Matthew, Mark, and John) but I haven’t made it all the way through. I do intend on finishing it eventually, as I do still feel it’s important for me to have at least read it once, but I think resolving to read it in its entirely in 31 days was too big for me. 
I certainly don’t think this month was a waste in any sense but I am definitely not as happy with the outcome as I had first presumed. I’m very glad that I found a few more things to get me out of the house each week as it’s now been proven that being extroverted is very beneficial to my happiness. I really enjoy my gratitude journal, it does provide me with a lot of happiness, but I really don’t feel any more at peace as a result of these goals. I intend to continue with them as best as I can and see what the next few months bring my way.

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We have had the wettest April on record and if May hasn’t broken the record yet, I’m sure it is pretty darn close. Today, for the first time in what seems like months, the sun has finally made an appearance and it has completely made my day! 

Sunshine and the Warmth It Brings

Where would we be without sunshine? All I can picture is a world full of brown grass, wilted flowers and a bunch of grumpy, Vitamin D deprived people. But with this magic ball of fire in the sky, we are lucky enough to have fields of green grass, the most beautiful flowers you’ve ever seen and some very energetic, optimistic individuals. 

The sun warms our skin and our hearts. It allows us the freedom to shed some layers and open the windows after a long, harsh winter. It provides much needed vitamin D for us all and some essential life giving rays to all the striking flora surrounding us. It stimulates our crops, warms our lakes and pools, and dries up the soggy mess that the spring showers have left behind. Simply put, the sun provides life for us all and I think the world would be a much different and gloomier place without it brightening our sky. 

So I say, bring on the sunshine, bring on the heat and pull out your shorts and tank tops baby!

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How To Be Popular

Very good advice plus it’s just too cute!

My absolute favourite advice is “keep yourself clean, make sure you don’t smell…” LOL Enjoy!


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“I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars.” ~ Og Mandino

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by BJ Morbitzer 

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away. The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring, the third in summer, and the youngest in the fall.  

When they had all gone and returned, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted. The second son said it was covered with green buds and full of promise. The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen. The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe, drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment. 

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each only seen one season in the tree’s life. 

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season. That the essence of who they are, and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life, can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.  

If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall.  

Don’t let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest. Don’t judge life by one difficult season. 

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“Silent gratitude isn’t much use to anyone.” ~ G.B. Stern

In hopes of encouraging myself to stick with my gratitude journal, each week I’d like to share with you some of the things I am thankful for. Hopefully you’ll see some things that you are also grateful to have in your life and my outlook will spark you into pondering over your own appreciation of things. Please take a few minutes today to look around and enjoy life’s simple pleasures. 🙂

The last few weeks have brought me many things to be grateful for, here’s a short list of all the things I appreciate.

I am grateful for…

  • my best friends cancer-free diagnosis

  • the most beautiful sunrise I have ever seen on my way in to work

  • the two little finch birds (Mr. & Mrs. Finchy) that frequent my bird feeder


  • stunning yellow fields of dandelions


  • the most incredible array of colourful tulips in my neighbours garden’s

What are you thankful for today?

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As part of my March Happiness Project to build friendships I had joined a book club for women ages 25-40. I stated in my posts that I really wanted to meet new friends my own age, more specifically, women my age. I have always had incredible friendships with men but I have felt this need to balance things out with a few close female friends. I thought I really wanted a good girlfriend to laugh with, do girly things with and have that deep girlfriend bond that I idolize in all the movies and tv shows I watch. 

Last night was the first book club meeting I was available to attend and I absolutely did not want to go. Not only was my body showing signs of nervousness and fear but I also felt a little angry. Now that the day had arrived, I was mad that I was committed to going. You must understand that the fear and anxiety is normal for me; I don’t like going to new places I’ve never been before, especially when it’s downtown (parallel parking – eek!) and it’s to meet new people. The anger, however, was definitely something I’ve never felt before. If it was simply the fear holding me back, I would have forced myself to go, knowing that I probably would have had a great time but instead I bailed. I gave into my fears and stayed home. 

After feeling bad about myself for giving into my fears, I started to wonder if there was more to it. Surely if it was just nerves I could have gotten over it but this anger towards this meetup was really weird. Why was I so angry for committing to this? I wanted to make new friends, didn’t I? 

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I was angry at these women – these strangers I had never met. All my old preconceived notions about women my age came back to me. They are mean and catty and manipulative, right? Ever since the sixth grade, I have been picked on, ostracized, ignored, bullied and generally treated badly by girls. Even now, at age 28, I still have major issues with girls and their cattiness. In my experience, girls are generally not supportive and encouraging of your successes, if anything, they want to see you fail so that they can feel better about themselves and that is definitely not the kind of friendship I want. Every time I reach out to another female, I am stabbed in the back, treated poorly or thrown away like yesterdays garbage. I know that not all girls will be like this but I’ve gotten to the point, from my experiences, that I am jaded and distrustful. Frankly, I have been programmed to believe this about other girls, even if they are sweet and sincere. And this book club, with 17 women my age, scared the crap out of me! 

So why did I think I wanted to have girlfriends? Why did I join this group in the first place? Introduce preconceived notion #2 – I should have girlfriends. Some part of me thinks that it’s the right thing to do. It’s just not customary or “normal” to have all male friends. It doesn’t help that this point of view is supported by others in my life (my husband, my mom etc) plus the media certainly portrays “hanging with your girlfriends” as the ideal lifestyle. But is this belief correct? Do I really need girlfriends?  

Honestly, I don’t think I do. I believe this deep impulse to have that connection with girls my age has nothing to do with needing a friendship. I have a lot of great friends, even if they are male. I don’t miss out on any “girly” things either; my mom is eager to do a lot of crazy things with me and my best friend is more than happy to go with me to see a musical, go shopping or do any other girl-related things I’d want to do. The connection I have with my friends is also amazing; I’m definitely not missing anything there. I can talk about whatever is on my mind, even if it is girl-related, and my friends are there to listen, offer advice or just offer a sympathetic shoulder to cry on. So no, I do not think I really need a girlfriend at all. I’m doing just fine with the male friends I have.

So where do I go from here? First of all, I need to just let go of all the current beliefs and fears I have and just go with the flow. I cannot let the past dictate my future nor can I hunt for something that I really don’t necessarily need. I can’t restrict myself to male-only friendships in hopes of staying safe and comfortable but I also can’t go out there specifically pursuing only female friendships either. I need to just take it one day at a time, involve myself in the activities that I enjoy and see where life takes me.

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